The spring thaw brings a welcome change to highway conditions. In Pemberton, cyclists are dusting off their bikes and their spandex and enjoying the start of the road cycling season. Pedestrians are able to maneuver the side of the road much more easily without massive snow banks to contend with. Beleaguered motorists and commuters can literally start breathing a collective sigh of relief: the frost heaves, the nasty bumps in the pavement that have been ubiquitous this past winter, are gradually subsiding. It has been a tough winter on the roads, and for the approximately 2,000 commuters who make the daily drive to Whistler, spring could not have come sooner.
“I sprained my ribs this past winter, and for a good month I had a lot of trouble with this commute just due to the frost heaves and the havoc they wreaked on my car and my body,” said one Pemberton resident, who works in Function Junction. “I always knew the road between Whistler and Pemberton was not in stellar condition, but this injury really hit that home. It was totally unpleasant and I don’t know what the solution is. Obviously the road needs to be re-paved but I doubt that is going to happen. From what I have heard, this hasn’t happened for 20 years.”
If motorists think that Highway 99 between Pemberton and Whistler is the pavement that the Ministry of Transportation has forgotten about, look no further than the Duffey Lake Road or Portage Road, the route that serves the communities beyond Mount Currie such as Birken, Devine and D’Arcy. A drive through these areas brings one to the sobering conclusion that highway conditions can always get much worse.
Rob Moriarty, a Birken resident who commutes daily to Whistler has become accustomed to the state of the road but cannot understand why the conditions he faces are not being adequately addressed. “I was in rural Saskatchewan last year and the side streets were in better condition than they are here,” he said.
With regards to the pothole situation, Moriarty said, “we don’t need a band-aid solution... We need surgery. I don’t know if I’d call the situation dangerous, but then again, I know where all the potholes are located — I travel this road every day.”
SLRD Area “C” Director, Susie Gimse admitted that she has received a constant barrage of complaints this winter about the state of the highways from her constituents.
“I have discussed this issue with the (transportation) minister and the fact is, highways throughout B.C. have taken a beating this winter,” said Gimse. “People should be writing letters to their MLA or the minister directly about their concerns. This is not my jurisdiction; this is a provincial issue. I met with our MLA today, and I told her the number one complaint I hear from my constituents is the condition of our highway. She said she would do what she could to address the issue.”